I was notified yesterday that Leon Morris, the great New Testament scholar from Australia, died Monday afternoon in Melbourne. He was 92. I was fortunate to have been a teacher at Trinity seminary when Leon Morris was retired and doing some visiting professoring. I had lunch with him numerous times, and Kris and I had Leon and Millie to our home for dinner one evening. We made tacos, can you believe that?
I once wrote Leon a long letter, explaining to him how grateful I was to him for his writing. I explained to him that I began atonement studies with his Apostolic Preaching of the Cross, which I have read three times. The book truly was seminal, and many to this day use it to construct a penal substitutionary theory of the atonement. In seminary I read his commentary on John, and when I began teaching at TEDS I read his New Testament Theology. I simply told him that he had a big influence on my life.
He graciously wrote me back, I stuck his letter in one of his books on my shelf, and occasionally I have opened the book to have the letter fall to the floor. Today I pulled it out and read it again, and I gave thanks to God for who he was.
At the end of his letter he said this: “I am sorry the Cubbies and the Dodgers had a bad season. Out here I get the scores sporadically but enough to know that the two seemed to be losing much more than winning. So I join all Cub supporters in hoping for better things next year.”
Now, Leon, I know neither of us is Catholic, but both of us believe in the communion of the saints, and I’m wondering if maybe you could just have a chat …. well, he’s got plenty of worship now filling his heart and I do, too, because he was such a great man and great scholar and a great Christian. We need more like him. The sooner the better.
The following is from his Wikipedia entry:
“Leon Morris (1914—2006) was a New Testament scholar. He received his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge in England on the subject which became his first major book, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross. He served as Warden of Tyndale House, Cambridge (1960-64); Principal (university) of Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia (where they have named a library in his honour); and Visiting Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
“He has published several theological works and commentaries on the Bible, notable among which are The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross, The Atonement: Its Meaning and Significance, New Testament Theology, and The Gospel According to John (part of the New International Commentary on the New Testament series).”
(HT: Justin Taylor)